In the wake of the Las Vegas concert massacre, the New York sidewalk terrorist attack and now a shooting in a Texas Baptist church, I've been reflecting on my life. How should I respond to these horrible, horrific events?
The people in Las Vegas were just enjoying a concert. The people in New York City were just carrying on with their normal daily routines. The people in the Baptist church were worshiping God. When those people got up, dressed for the day and headed out the door, they had no clue it would be the last time they did so.
There are evil people in our world who have no regard for life. Lives are shattered. Parents are burying their children. Loved ones are forced to say goodbye.
People want to try and fix everything behind these terrorist attacks except the root cause: evil. Could part of the blame be how people fill their minds with violence in the form of movies and violent video games?
Hollywood lays blame on guns alone while continuing to make violent and demonic movies for people to indulge in. Could these things be part of the root cause? Could it be the heart? God rebuked wicked Israel, saying: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
Our country has become self-indulgent. Our focus tends to be on "my rights" instead of having an outward focus that seeks to make life better for someone else.
The heart needs to change. Unless the heart is right with God, our world will continue a steady decline.
In the meantime, how can we best deal with it?
1. Be thankful.
Thank God for every day that is given to you, and use it to help, encourage and pray for others. Always have a grateful heart. Trials and suffering can actually deepen gratefulness. Never taking anything for granted—even each day of life given to you.
Remember that victims in these three cities didn't have one more day. In his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us what can happen if we are not grateful: "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised” (Romans 1:21-25).
That describes much of humankind today, as many worship created things instead of God. Be grateful every day for life and all that has been given to you.
2. Do not live in fear.
It is so easy to do when we see all these horrible things happening around us. Fear can paralyze us.
God commanded Israel to have courage: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). God will be with us wherever we go! And for us who are baptized today have an even greater help: “For God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). David mused, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame” (Psalm 34:4-5).
3. Our hope is in God, not people.
Place your hope in God! “Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey His commands, listen to his voice and cling to him” (Deuteronomy 13:4).
We may have to go through some tough times, but God will see us through it. Always be thankful, do not fear, and keep our hope on God. A better world is to come.
While we sigh and cry, we have an amazing hope that there will be a "new sheriff in town" one day. Christ will come and destroy all the evil and all that will not submit to His laws and commandments, which is the only way that can bring total happiness. In that day, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).